It’s a huge week in Parliament and the Times has an inside story of how the PM’s MPs are plotting against her.

Theresa May’s opponents are discussing how to ensure the biggest possible vote against her Brexit deal in the Commons on Tuesday to stop her repeatedly bringing it back in different forms. MPs will be asked to decide first on a series of amendments to the prime minister’s plan, several of which would kill it. This could mean that it is never put to a vote.
Over the weekend, parliamentarians will be discussing which amendments to support, amid differences over parliamentary tactics.
Opposition MPs, second referendum supporters and Brexiteers are all looking for ways to find a clean “kill amendment” that as many MPs as possible can support to secure a majority against of more than 100.

She is being urged to co-operate with Labour Remainers, says the Express.

REMAINER Cabinet ministers are pushing Theresa May to urgently seek help from Labour in a desperate bid to secure the votes needed to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Members of the Prime Minister’s inner circle have urged her to appeal directly to Jeremy Corbyn for assistance if her unpopular Withdrawal Agreement is rejected by MPs as expected next week, Bloomberg reports.
The mainly pro-European group is said to consist of six Cabinet ministers and two other ministers. They are reportedly trying to convince Mrs May to meet with the Labour leader in the hope of negotiating a Brexit both parties can live with in a bid to avoid a disorderly no deal split.
Labour has already vowed to vote against the Government’s plan because it does not meet the party’s six tests.

The Sun says she will fail.

THERESA May’s desperate charm offensive to persuade Labour MPs into backing her Brexit deal will fail to win over more than ten, a pro-Leave Labour MP has said.
The huge scale of the impending government defeat is putting off as many two dozen other Labour waverers, the MP added.
He said voting for the deal would trigger a bitter fight with the hard-left Momentum group, who wants the Government to lose in order to force a General Election and there was no point backing the deal when it was going to lose anyway.
Research suggests that the Prime Minister is on course to lose the crunch Commons vote on Tuesday by as many as 228 votes.

No Brexit

Perhaps this should be called ‘Project Fear’ because there is a warning that Brexit could trigger a far-right backlash, says the Sun.

BLOCKING Brexit would trigger a rise in Neo-Nazi extremist groups and end centuries of moderate politics in the UK, a Cabinet minister has warned.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the 17 million people who voted to the leave the European Union would feel “cheated” if Britain were to remain tied to the bloc.
Mr Grayling insists that blocking or diluting Brexit could end 350 years of “moderate” politics Britain has enjoyed since the English Civil War.
He said “nasty” incidents such as the “Nazi” taunts at Tory MP and prominent Remainer Anna Soubry could become more frequent if the historic exit was to be scuppered.

ITV News also has the story.

Blocking Brexit could “open the door” to “extremist” populist political forces in the UK, and the millions who voted to Leave the European Union would feel “cheated”, a Cabinet minister has warned.
Chris Grayling said putting a stop to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU could end centuries of “moderate” politics the UK has enjoyed since the English Civil War, as he urged his Conservative colleagues to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

And BBC News says those who voted Leave could feel cheated.

Blocking Brexit could lead to a surge in far-right extremism in the UK, the transport secretary has said.
Chris Grayling told the Daily Mail that failing to leave the EU would cause the 17 million people who voted for Brexit to feel “cheated”.
This could end centuries of “moderate” politics in the UK, he said, as he urged his colleagues to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
A vote on the agreement takes place in the Commons on Tuesday.
MPs are widely expected to reject the deal, negotiated between the EU and UK, with more than 100 Conservative MPs among those opposing it.

A second minister has made the same warning, says Sky News.

Brexit could be cancelled if MPs vote down the deal reached with Brussels, the foreign secretary has warned.
Jeremy Hunt said parliament would “try very hard to rule out” a no-deal divorce with the EU and leave the UK in “paralysis”.
“The big risk and what people worry about is that we don’t actually deliver what people voted for,” he said.
His intervention is the most significant from a cabinet minister acknowledging that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could be blocked.
Mr Hunt admitted the parliamentary arithmetic was “challenging”, with more than 90 Conservative MPs vowing to vote against the deal before Christmas.

It seems the fight has gone out of a couple of Leave donors, says the Times.

Leading Conservative donors who spent millions on the Brexit campaign say they now believe that Britain may never leave the European Union at all.
Crispin Odey, a hedge fund manager who has given more than £870,000 to pro-Leave groups, revealed yesterday that he was betting on the pound to strengthen after Brexit failed.
“My view is that it ain’t going to happen,” Mr Odey said. “I just can’t see how it happens with that configuration of parliament.”
Another two Tory donors, who between them gave £1.7 million to support the campaign to take Britain out of the EU, said they too believed that the eventual deal would not represent a real Brexit.

The Telegraph says the two donors have given up hope of leaving,

No Brexit is increasingly likely, Jeremy Hunt has warned as two billionaires who spent more than £4million backing Leave campaigns said they had “totally given up hope”.
The hedge fund manager Crispin Odey and Peter Hargreaves, one of the UK’s richest men, expect ministers to shelve Brexit in a move that will damage democracy.
Mr Odey, who donated £870,000 to Leave campaigns, is now so convinced that the UK will stay in the European Union that his asset management company is positioning for a rise in the pound.
Their comments come as ministers are braced for Theresa May to suffer the biggest Commons defeat on record when MPs vote on her deal on Tuesday.

The Mail says we might never leave the EU.

Brexiteer billionaires who gave more than £4million to the Leave battle today said they have given up on Britain ever actually quitting the EU.
Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire who was the second biggest donor to the 2016 leave campaign, and veteran hedge fund manager Crispin Odey they now expect Britain to stay in the EU despite their campaign victory in the 2016 referendum.
The pair said deadlock in Parliament meant Theresa May’s deal would be voted down and MPs would end up cancelling the entire project despite the 2016 vote.

If the PM’s deal is voted down, Parliament could be ‘paralysed’, reports the Guardian.

A rejection of Theresa May’s deal could lead to “Brexit paralysis” and prevent the UK from leaving the EU at all,  Jeremy Hunt has said.
Such an outcome would be “enormously damaging” for politicians’ relationships with voters and Britain’s global reputation, the foreign secretary said.
“If we were, as a political class, not to deliver Brexit that would be a fundamental breach of trust between the people and the politicians and I think that would be something that we would regret for many, many generations,” Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

WTO rules

Just a day before the big vote, Parliament will debate the ‘no deal’ petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people, says the Express.

A MONSTER petition demanding Britain adopts a no-deal Brexit and simply walks away from the EU without paying the crippling £39billion divorce bill has secured a debate in Parliament hours before Theresa May’s meaningful vote after it scooped more than 300,000 signatures.
Die-hard Brexiteers hijacked Prime Minister Theresa May’s crunch Commons vote on Tuesday by winning a Parliamentary debate over whether the UK should opt for a no-deal scenario less than 24 hours before warring MPs vote on her Withdrawal Agreement.
The 321,000 signatures dwarf the 100,000 needed to secure a discussion in the House of Commons. And the debate has been set for Monday afternoon, the day before MPs take part in the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal. The petition demands the UK walk away from the EU without coughing up the billions of pounds as agreed by Mrs May at the start of Brexit negotiations.

Breitbart claims nobody should fear ‘no deal’.

“No Deal” Brexit should hold no fear for British science and research, according to a group of distinguished academics.
In a letter to the left-liberal Guardian, fifteen scholars including a neuroscientist, a professor of oncology, and the chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic pushed back against the doomsaying of the academic establishment on the supposedly disastrous prospect of a clean exit from the European Union or World Trade Organization (WTO) terms– the so-called “No Deal” option.

Second referendum

A Tory MP is gauging when to back calls for a second referendum, says the Guardian.

Backing for a second Brexit referendum in parliament is unlikely to be tested until after next week’s meaningful vote, as campaigners weigh up the best moment to try to win over the Labour leadership.
The Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston has scrapped plans to table a “doctors’ amendment” calling for the public to be allowed to exercise “informed consent” about Theresa May’s deal.
Wollaston said she would wait until after Tuesday in the hope that “Labour will by then be honouring its commitment to back a ‘people’s vote’”.

But Labour members want a second referendum right away, claims ITV News.

The “vast majority” of Labour members want the party to campaign for a new Brexit referendum if hopes of an early general election are extinguished, veteran politician Roy Hattersley is set to say.
Lord Hattersley, who was a minister in the Wilson and Callaghan governments, will declare his support for the People’s Vote campaign in a speech in Sheffield on Saturday.
The former deputy Labour Party leader is expected to tell Jeremy Corbyn to “put out of his mind all the outdated nonsense about a socialist economy being impossible in Europe”.


Reuters reports that the EU is still maintaining its intransigence over the deal.

The European Union is ready to clarify for London the withdrawal agreement reached with the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, but not to renegotiate it, the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday.
Juncker spoke to the press during a visit in Bucharest to celebrate the beginning of Romanian’s six-month rotating presidency of the EU during which it will preside over Britain’s exit from the bloc in March.

And the Telegraph reports the possibility that the EU is not so divided.

The sight of Angela Merkel being given a warm welcome in Athens this week will have come as a relief to anyone with a stake in European stability.
It was a far cry from the days of the Euro crisis, when protesters built a gallows outside the Greek parliament with a sign that read “Reserved for Merkel”, and the Greek newspapers printed mock-ups of her in SS uniform. On her last visit to Athens in 2014, protestors gave her the Nazi salute and Alexis Tsipras, then still an opposition leader, told her to go home.
Now Greek prime minister, Mr Tsipras was more welcoming this week.

Fox News reports that plans for a EU army are well advanced.

Germany’s defense minister has revealed a controversial  European joint army is “already taking shape”- thanks to her French allies.
Germany and France are now the “driving forces” in European defense and they would stand together in the face of any land assault, said Ursula von der Leyen.
The politician also hit back at those who criticize the European Union’s PESCO defense scheme – where national military leaders pledge to co-operate with each other.

Voter ID

Will we ever be asked for identification at the polls? The Independent reports.

Legal proceedings have been launched today against the government over its plans to press ahead with the roll-out of the contentious voter ID trials.
It comes after a crowdfunding campaign by 64-year-old Neil Coughlan and backed by Jeremy Corbyn, reached £20,000, enabling him to instruct lawyers on his behalf.
Law firm Leigh Day have formally sought permission from the High Court to apply for a judicial review in an attempt to scupper ministers’ plans to hold further pilots of voter ID at the local elections later this year.
In 2018, ministers were warned to ditch their plans for nationwide roll-out of voter ID checks as it emerged introducing them at a general election could cost up to £20m – even though there were 28 cases of polling station impersonations alleged in 2017.

Universal credit

The Guardian reports that the Universal Credit scheme is again under scrutiny.

Four working single mothers have won a legal victory that could force the government to radically overhaul the way it operates the controversial universal credit scheme.
Two high court judges ruled the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was wrongly interpreting universal credit regulations after the women – who had argued they were struggling financially because of how the welfare system worked – were successful in their judicial review.
The women had argued a “fundamental problem” with the scheme meant their monthly payments varied enormously and they had ended up out of pocket, a problem their lawyers said was likely to affect tens of thousands of people.

The Work and Pensions secretary is under pressure in the Mirror.

Amber Rudd faces mounting pressure to halt and review Universal Credit after losing a landmark High Court battle.
The judgment today was a damning blow to the Tory welfare chief – 10 minutes before she gave a major speech saying she will reform the system.
Judges ruled the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) treated four working single mothers wrongly under the new benefit.
Danielle Johnson, Claire Woods, Erin Barrett and Katie Stewart suffered huge changes to their UC payments when two pay cheques came during one “assessment period”.
The system wrongly treated them as doubling their salary, a situation the ruling branded “odd in the extreme” and “nonsensical”.

And the Sun reports she has agreed to changes.

AMBER Rudd has said today that Brits on Universal Credit could get vital cash quicker and more often in future.
The Work and Pensions Secretary announced that she will oversee a new pilot scheme to pay people moving on to the scheme more frequently – in a win for The Sun’s Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
If that change was rolled out across the system it could  slash the wait desperate Brits face for their first payment down from five weeks.
As part of her new approach to the flagship welfare system  she revealed a “more flexible” approach to childcare – helping millions of working parents across the country who struggle to claim their costs back.


Millions of pounds are being spent on managers, says the Times.

The number of managers in the NHS has risen 15 per cent since costly health service reforms, which were designed to cut bureaucracy, were introduced seven years ago.
Ministers are now planning to reverse the reorganisation, introduced by the former health secretary Andrew Lansley, which has been condemned by experts who estimate that it cost taxpayers £3 billion.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said he was considering removing the most contentious elements of Mr Lansley’s reforms enforcing competition within the NHS after health service leaders said they were getting in the way of implementing a ten-year plan.


Shorter jail sentences could be scrapped, says the Sun.

PRISON sentences under six months could be scrapped, meaning burglars and shoplifters would dodge jail time.
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart says the Ministry of Justice is ‘looking very carefully’ at radical changes to sentencing.
Up to 30,000 offenders a year would be spared jail if the plans are given the go-ahead.
Mr Stewart pointed to research that offenders who serve short sentences were “statistically more likely” to re-offend as opposed to those given community sentences.


The weather in Europe is causing havoc reports the Mail.

At least 21 people have now died across Europe amid a week of heavy snow killing at least four more people on Friday including a snowplow driver whose vehicle toppled into an icy river.
Also on Friday two snowboarders died after an avalanche in Bulgaria. Red Cross workers said the snowboarders ignored warnings and went out on the slopes and triggered the avalanche in the southwestern Pirin Mountains, with their bodies discovered around midday.

The Star claims the continent is on ‘red alert’.

EUROPE was put on red alert last night as killer snow chaos trapped hundreds in their cars and homes.
And the wintry blast could be heading towards the UK.
At least 15 people have died in the extreme weather conditions this week.
Among the dead was a 16-year-old boy who was buried in an avalanche on a ski slope near St Anton am Arlberg, Austria.
A 54-year-old woman died in her car in stationary traffic on a motorway in Germany.
About 10ft of snow has fallen in parts of Germany and Austria where the mercury has plummeted to -20C.

And we here in the UK might just get a taste of winter, reports the Sun.

THE UK will be battered by 50mph gales this weekend before the temperatures are set to plunge to freezing temperatures from the north.
Sub-zero Polar air will push the mercury below zero next week as forecasters warn to brace for the first “widespread snow” of winter.
Every part of the UK will be hit with strong winds over the next couple of days as a volatile Atlantic low-pressure system clips the country.
Gales touching 50mph threaten to lash exposed parts of the north with gusts of up to 40mph forecast widely through the weekend.

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